Copyright © 2002 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume Two Winter 2000-Spring 2001 Numbers 3-4.
SEXUAL DIVISION OF LABOR IN THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT: TRADE UNION INVOLVEMENT IN
MAINTAINING AND CHALLENGING THE SEXUAL DIVISION OF LABOR
Marva A. Phillips
Trade Union Education Institute
School of Continuing Studies
University of the West Indies
Published Online February 15, 2017
This article discusses the role of trade unions in maintaining the sexual division of labor, challenges faced by the first generation of trade union women beginning in the 1930s, and those challenges posed by the second generation of women. It also examines the denial of women’s roles and the strategies of the first generation of trade union women which did not include those combative practices that were necessary for their male counterparts. Fearlessness and the willingness to engage in physical combat were the main qualifications for aspiring trade union leaders in the 1930s, and for many years to come. The foundation established by the first generation of women allowed the second generation of women, like myself, in the 1970s to respond in a more forthright manner within the trade unions by ignoring the precepts of patriarchy. Gender ideologies, although not clearly defined at that time in Caribbean trade unions, have influenced perceptions and shaped the categorization of women in the history of the Caribbean trade union movement. The challenge for trade union women in the new millennium is the demolition of the gender wall to allow for the full participation of women throughout the trade union movement.